Summary: For the people to understand the place of spiritual gifts in the Church; to understand their personal responsibility to employ spiritual gifts to serve others; to understand the biblical assurance of what those gifts will accomplish when each part does it
Intro: Ephesians 4:11-16
It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
Isn’t it great how God builds His Church? In ways that people don’t often realize, God is displaying His wisdom through the way He put together His Church. Look back through that text with me and see how God has goals for how He wants His Church to be. Did you notice them?
1. United (13a)
‘…until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God…”
There’s a greater reason for unity than you!
Jesus prayed for you and me – for His Church -
…that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.
…May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
When we talk about unity in the Lord’s Church, we’re not just talking about some preference that someone has. It’s the very thing that Jesus prayed for before He faced the cross. It’s the very thing that the HS commanded through Paul when He told us to make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. We’re part of an over 200yr old movement that especially concerns itself with that unity. God wants His Church united. Amen? That has to start right here, in this place. How do we get there?
Ill - Being together doesn’t make a unity. Tying 2 cats’ tails together does not a unity make.
The same is true in the Church. Putting people together in a building, even in an auditorium, or in a fellowship hall doesn’t make a unity either.
We could list all day what our differences are and what leads to disunity – that’s easy. What is it that unites us? What is it that makes it possible for a diverse group of people not only to be gathered together in a group, but also to be a united group? Sure, we all may have some ideas that may even help. But, just for this morning, let’s look at this text:
“…until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God…”
Unity is going to happen in 2 places:
Faith – Ill - Imagine a vanload of students in southern IL on their way home from some field trip. It has been a long trip, and everyone’s on their last nerve. They’re in the same van, but there’s nothing even resembling a unity there. In fact, they can’t stand each other. As they drive, they find themselves heading into an intense blizzard. The driver can’t see in front. The van pulls over and gets stuck. They’re stranded. Their situation is suddenly very serious. Guess what happens. All at once, they begin to work together, to think together, to care about each other. A sense of unity out of necessity changes the entire atmosphere, because now they’re struggling for their lives, together, instead of just fighting over petty problems.
Once in a while, we’d do well to remember that we’re all in the same boat, and it’s sinking. The Church is a life-saving station for people who’ve come to realize the seriousness of our situation. We all need a Savior! So, we’ve put our faith to be saved in Jesus Christ – you, me, together. Unity. Today, when the Christians of the underground Church in China are trying just to escape prison and torture, they aren’t fighting among themselves over what songs they should sing or who should chair some committee. They’re united in their faith in Jesus. “…until we all reach unity in the faith…”